BOZEMAN, Mont. – No. 11 LC State Women’s Basketball opened its first season of the Caelyn Orlandi era with an exhibition contest at NCAA Division I in Bozeman on Saturday. Though the Warriors fell 70-39 to the defending Big Sky Champions, the contest marked the debut of the team’s four freshmen Camden Barger, Tatum Brager, Grace Beardin, and Darian Herring.
“I am really proud of how our team battled every possession of the game and there are many positives that came from it,” Orlandi said. “We flew around defensively and forced 24 turnovers and came away with 19 steals, which I feel is excellent against any opponent.”
LC State struggled with injuries in preseason and had to get crafty when it came time to put players on the court. Despite playing slightly out of position at times, the Warriors rose to the challenge throughout the lineup.
“I was very excited to see our freshmen on the floor, and Camden Barger as well after missing last season,” Orlandi added. “Because of injury, we had to play players out of position and Maddie Holm and Sitara Byrd played with tremendous heart. Our point guards battled tough defense all afternoon and although we lost, we got the opportunity to learn what we need to work on, will work on it at practice next week, and start preparing for Whitman College.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
MSU scored the first two baskets of the contest before Maddie Holm hit a jumper at 8:43 to put the Warriors on the board. Another basket by the senior kept LC within two, 6-4, a minute later. The Bobcats pulled ahead 8-4 before jumpers by Callie Stevens and Herring brought the Warriors within one, 10-9, with 2:49 to play in the quarter. MSU led 13-9 after the first 10 minutes.
The Bobcats pushed the margin to 15-9 after a scoreless first two minutes of the second frame. Freshmen Beardin and Brager combined for five straight points to cut the deficit to 15-14 at 7:01, but free throws grew the MSU advantage to 21-14. A three-point play by Barger had the margin within 10, 28-19, with 2:05 to play in the half, and Ellie Sander made it 28-21 minutes later.
Montana State carried a 30-21 advantage into the locker room.
A 3-pointer by Holm opened the scoring in the second half before the Bobcats widened the gap to 39-24. Byrd and Stevens added free throws in an MSU-dominated third quarter that saw the score move to 43-26.
The Warrior offense returned in the fourth quarter after a layup by Payton Hymas got the momentum going. Stevens scored five straight points to make it a 20-point game at 53-33 with 7:26 to play. Barger led Sander to the basket before Stevens hit another 3 and the score sat at 59-38 with 4:22 to play. MSU closed out the contest with a final score of 70-39.
Stevens led the team with 12 points while Holm grabbed eight boards and seven points. Byrd had five steals and both Byrd and Sander blocked two shots.
The Warriors host the official season opener on Nov. 2 when LC State takes on DIII Whitman in the P1FCU Activity Center.
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